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Prominent Myanmar dissidents go into hiding; Bush urges junta not to arrest protesters

Prominent Myanmar dissidents go into hiding; Bush urges junta not to arrest protesters

Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar scattered into hiding Friday to dodge arrest, while U.S. President George W. Bush urged the country's ruling junta to listen to protesters, not arrest them.
The military government has detained scores of activists and employed menacing gangs of hired civilian toughs to keep watch in Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, to snuff out an unusually persistent wave of protests that began Aug. 19 over higher fuel and consumer goods prices.
In Washington, Bush condemned Myanmar's junta over the arrests, saying that the activists' "concerns should be listened to by the regime rather than silenced through force."
He said the generals "should heed the international calls to release these activists immediately and stop its intimidation of those Burmese citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights." Myanmar is also known as Burma.
The government has ordered local officials and hotels to be on the lookout for key pro-democracy activists, sending out photos and information about them to neighborhood officials and hotels, said a local official who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.
The list of dissidents includes at least one member of the 88 Generation Students group, the most active in carrying out non-violent anti-government protests. Most of its top members were arrested on Aug. 21, two days after staging the first of the current round of protests.
Those on the list include two women, Mie Mie, an 88 Generation leader, and Nilar Thein, wife of Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Jimmy, one of the detained 88 Generation leaders.
Nilar Thein left their 4-month old baby behind when they she went into hiding, said her mother-in-law, Ah Mar Nyunt, contacted by phone Friday.
She said she didn't know where the couple was.
"It is painful to see the child when she seeks her mother at night. We are now worried about the son, daughter-in-law and the baby's health and welfare," she said, adding that she is feeding the baby herself with powdered milk and crushed rice.
Prominent labor activist Su Su Nway is not on the wanted list, but said she has also gone into hiding for fear of being detained. Despite being a former political prisoner, she has repeatedly taken part in anti-government protests.
Su Su Nway said she is facing health difficulties because she has to been unable to risk consulting with her doctor for a heart condition.
"We have not committed any crime and have not broken any law," she told The Associated Press. "We are peacefully expressing the difficulties that the people of Myanmar are facing, but we are being hunted down like criminals."
Detained activists continued their resistance from jail, starting a hunger strike Thursday to demand medical treatment for a colleague who reportedly suffered a broken leg during his arrest Tuesday, according to a fellow activist who insisted on anonymity for fear of official retaliation.
In Yangon, truckloads of the government-directed toughs remained parked at key points, the occupants ready to pounce on anyone suspected of trying to spark unrest.
In 1988, public protests over rising rice prices were a prelude to a burst of major demonstrations that were violently subdued by the army. The current protests are nowhere near their scale. The junta held general elections in 1990, but refused to honor the results when the party led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won.
Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, has been under extended house arrest.


Updated : 2021-05-06 22:06 GMT+08:00